While chatting with reporters on his press plane this week, Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL), noting that many of the televisions at army bases in Iraq and Afghanistan were tuned to Fox News, jokingly asked, “Is this the commander in chief’s choice?” Missing the joke, the Fox and Friends denounced Obama’s “implication” that the Bush administration was “brainwashing” the troops.
At the same time, the Fox hosts insisted that it made perfect sense that soldiers overseas would prefer Fox News because “they’re getting a fair and balanced approach” to the war. Guest Rudy Giuliani declared that if Obama “has any understanding of how American troops think,” he’d know they feel that they “get a better shake on Fox” than the other “anti-military” networks:
GIULIANI: I mean, if he has any understanding of how American troops think, it would be natural that a large percentage of them would watch Fox. There’s the sense that Fox covers the war in Iraq and the situation in Iraq in a more balanced way. … But if you talk to enough of the troops there or their offices, and not 100% but you are going to see a very large percentage of them believe they get a better shake on Fox than some of the other networks some of which I think they believe is anti-military.
Watch a compilation of Fox and Friends’ coverage of the story this morning:
The Fox anchors repeatedly declared that the military offers “all cable channels.” However, when Brian Kilmeade checked with a source in Gen. Petraeus’ office, he reported that the military televisions offer “AFN [American Forces Network] news, which cycles through the various news broadcasts, and you can also get CNN International, and then we have Fox.” In other words, Fox is the only stateside American network accessible around the clock.
Host Steve Doocy comically asserted, “The best coverage of the war was on Fox.” A Project for Excellence in Journalism report in March found that Fox spent the least time discussing the Iraq War in 2007 of all three cable networks, devoting just 10 percent of airtime to the subject. Similarly, in 2006 Fox spent the least time on the war — giving it hardly any more coverage than it gave to Anna Nicole Smith.
A 2003 study by the Program on International Policy found that 60 percent of Fox viewers erroneously believed at least one of the following misperceptions: that Iraq and al Qaeda were linked, that weapons of mass destruction had been found in Iraq, or that the world favored the U.S. invasion.